Mother's Day (2010)
Any type of film requires an antagonist, a villain but this is particularly true with horror films. In this sort of movie the writer has the freedom to go a bit over the top in painting the bad guy in extremes; devoid of redemptive qualities. In a horror film these villains can run the gamut from unstoppable supernatural creatures like Freddie Kruger to more realistic monster possible in the real world like Hannibal ‘the Cannibal’ Lecture more frightening because of the potential of truly existing. In numerous cases the originator of the terror is a person we normally encounter in our daily lives; dentist, roommates and neighbors have all served as inspiration for the horror author. There is one person that has unusually intense potential for horror and has taking on that role with great success over the years, ‘Mother’. Whether she is the matriarch of a clan of monstrous murders or possesses the perchance for personal involvement in the torture and mayhem Mothers have been a staple in the horror genre for a very long time and there is absolutely no indication this trope will be abandoned any time soon. This is evident by the movie under consideration here, ‘Mother’s Day (2011)’.
The movie reviewed here is actually a remake in the 1980 flick of the same name. that movie was produced by Troma, a studio well known by every boy of the baby boomer generation that went to the nearest grind house theater in order to cajole their way into the forbidden ‘R’ rated film. Anyone who has ever sat in the dank darkness of a grind house is familiar with the list of Troma films. They became cult classics because they were made quick and cheap employing marginal special effects and scripts with the distinct inclination towards the melodramatic. While not conducive to cinematic excellence Troma made cut classics imbued with Vox Populi that the target demographic of high school boys could readily identify with. This background is germane here since it goes to what expectations we should have as we approach the remake. This film endeavored o do more than merely updating and retelling the story. As I began watching it became clear that the filmmaker must have been a fan of Troma sitting in dollar theater seats just like we did so long ago. In some ways this movie managed to capture the spirit of s Troma film; the essences of what made them so entertaining. With this in mind it really isn’t fair to judge it by the technical criteria normally used in rating a film. I found myself being pulled back thirty years when I was a diehard Troma fan.
‘Mother’s Day’ is a rather straightforward horror movie blended with a touch of crime thriller to set the stage. A group of sibling bank robbers, Ike (Patrick Flueger), Addley (Warren Kole) and Johnny Koffi (Matt O'Leary) are having a very bad time on their latest job. The youngest of the clan, Johnny was shot and seriously wounded during the job. Making matters worse the gunshot did not come from the cops or bank guard by their traitorous former partner in crime. After shooting Johnny he managed to slip away with all the loot. Like many bad boys when things go horribly awry and they are backed into a corner; the run back home to their mother. Unfortunately, when they get to their old home thy find another family, Beth (Jaime King) and Daniel (Frank Grillo) Sohap, living there. They had some friends over in the hopes of celebrating a birthday but instead the group of friends was about to become hostages. The Sohaps took possession of the property when the bank foreclosed on mother Koffi. The situation rapidly escalates when Mother Natalie (Rebecca De Mornay) arrives with her daughter, Lydia (Ann Woll). Mom makes an irate bear protecting her cubs look like an amateur. Mother will stop at absolutely nothing to keep her wayward children safe and out of the reach of the law. This leads into a tense and deadly game of survival for the hostages and desperate last ditch bid for freedom by the criminal family. This mother is more Ma barker than June Cleaver and her dedication to her children is about to go to unheard of extremes.
There might be a little touch of irony that the production team here had previously been heavily involved with the currently popular ‘torture porn’ segment of the world of horror films. In its heyday Troma had been denounced by many of the same groups that current target films like those in the ‘Saw’ franchise. The one main difference which is continued in this film is Troma tended to have a stronger plot frequently with a twist ending. In that way they were w lot like the old EC comics that were off limits to us in our younger days. This incarnation of ‘Mother’s Day’ has taken the story from a cheap exploitation flick to a tautly constructed horror film. For once a remake managed to retain the inherent feeling of the original while updating the means of presentation so as to garner the appeal of the current audience. One caveat here is evident. There are a lot of characters at least initially. The director Darren Lynn Bousman helmed the second, third and fourth of the previously mentioned ‘Saw’ films. They might have been torture for the sake of bloodshed but at least they managed the flow of the characters, in this case each of the characters is given attention which normally is a good thing but here it tends to bog down the pacing of the movie. Fortunately the herd is drastically thinned out in fairly rapid succession. Bousman did bring his knack for depicting the infliction of pain from his prior experience here. Troma had a different way of doing the same thing but Bousman has remained on point with the general intention. The script drags in several places but the cast is capable enough to keep the proceedings on track. The film is flawed but comes across better than much of the current offerings in the genre.